Photo of a colorful broom with broom corn in the background


Student Craft has changed many times since its founding in 1893. Shifting ideas about interracial education in the Jim Crow South overpowered the momentum of its founding abolitionist, utopian vision. Philanthropic support for interracial education at Berea College was harder to raise in this new political context, and so a new funding source and storytelling apparatus was developed and supported through craft. Material objects distilled notions of what Berea College was, and what values it upheld—such as a growing pride in the region’s Anglo-Saxon, pioneering ancestry. The initial interest in regional designs like the overshot coverlet and ladder-back chair gave way in the early 1900s to the national interest in the Colonial Revival. By the 1950s, each of the workshops in Student Craft were following distinct initiatives, ranging from industrial-level production to modern design led by materials and process. The constant through these eras has been student participation—by developing hand skills through collaborative work, students actively engage in the storytelling ability of objects.